£4.7bn for transport across the Midlands and North

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Transport Secretary Mark Harper have unveiled the new £4.7bn Local Transport Fund, set to enhance public transportation, alleviate congestion, and modernise local bus and train stations across the North and the Midlands.

The funding, introduced as part of the much-derided ‘Network North’ initiative, represents a “long-term boost” for the North and the Midlands over seven years, says the Government.

Some £2.5b will be allocated to the North and £2.2bn to the Midlands starting from April 2025. However, it remains unclear as to whether this is new money  – or from the same fund already announced in the Autumn Statement.

These investments aim to enhance daily transport connections, especially in smaller cities, towns, and rural areas.

Plans include constructing new roads and improving junctions, implementing or expanding mass transit systems, enhancing roads by repairing potholes and improving street lighting for personal safety.
Other initiatives include improving journey times for car and bus users by addressing congestion, increasing the number of electric vehicle charge points, renovating bus and rail stations and enhancing street infrastructure to ensure safer routes for children walking to school and to improve accessibility for all.

Maryam Eslamdoust, general secretary of the TSSA union poured scorn on the plans, saying: “The Conservative government has once again shown that it is totally lacking ambition. This redirection of funding will do nothing to fix our crumbling transport infrastructure that has suffered from 14 years of Tory mismanagement and neglect.

“Rishi Sunak’s government betrayed the North when they announced they were halting HS2 at Birmingham. The government are now tinkering around the edges of their broken system and will once again be leaving the public short changed.

“The Conservatives have let our transport network fall into disrepair over 14 years of misrule and are now using this money as a sticking plaster to try and hide the damage they have caused.

“Britain needs a publicly owned green high speed rail network. We need a new government that is ambitious enough to commit to building HS2 in full. The Conservatives have shown that they no longer have the ideas or ambition to run Britain’s transport system, they should make way for a government which does.”